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I pasted this article from todays Asbury Park Press, looks like we lost out on hosting the 100th!!!

Bike show is a no go

Published in the Asbury Park Press 5/18/02
LAKEHURST -- Harley-Davidson will have to hit the road again to find a site in the Northeast for its 100th anniversary Open Road Tour Festival.

The Naval Air Engineering Station here has decided against renting a 70-acre site to Harley for the motorcycle extravaganza Aug. 16-18 because of concerns that area roads wouldn't be able to accommodate the traffic. Organizers had projected attendance at about 50,000 people a day.

The decision was reached yesterday afternoon after Harley executives flew in from company headquarters in Milwaukee for meetings with the Navy base's upper brass.

"Although we felt like we could support a very safe and fun event at Lakehurst, we decided with Harley-Davidson that we could not ignore the logistical challenges of the area," said Capt. Dwight Cousins, commander at the base.

"We have a great event and we wanted to bring it to the Jersey Shore," said Steve Piehl, Harley's director of communications. "The base would have been a great site, but the traffic, especially in the summer, would have been overwhelming. That was the driver. That was the reason we both came to this decision."

Fresh in base officials' minds was the air show in June 2000 featuring the Navy's Blue Angels, six jets that fly daring maneuvers in formation. The show drew overflow crowds of an estimated 140,000 on Saturday and nearly 200,000 on Sunday, creating massive traffic jams.

Initially, the Harley festival was scheduled to be held at Raceway Park in Old Bridge this summer. But that location was ruled out a few weeks ago after officials raised concerns about noise and potential violence, in the wake of fatal motorcycle gang rumbles on Long Island and in Laughlin, Nev.

With yesterday's announcement, Harley-Davidson Motor Co. officials said they would start looking for another site in the Northeast.

"Obviously, we are disappointed," said Piehl. "But we have a great show and we're going to find a good site for it."

The traveling festival will feature musical entertainment, custom and antique bike displays and motorcycle drills. It would have provided a "big boost" for area hotels and other businesses, company officials said.

"We were going to use local labor, local vendors and local concessions, as well," said Kathleen Lawler, Harley's vice president of communications.

Dave Melegari of Toms River, who owns and operates an ice cream and water ice company, called Blizzard of Ahhz, thought the festival would have been a great idea.

"There's is so much room over there and this would have helped everyone," Melegari said. "The bikers aren't as bad as people make them out to be. I have met a number of them and they are a great bunch of guys."

Daren Jenkins of Lakewood said two gangs -- the Pagans and Hells Angels -- have given motorcycle enthusiasts "a bad rap." He has already made arrangements to go to Atlanta on July 20 for the inaugural Open Road Tour festival.

Jenkins, who's been riding for 20 years, said "People from all walks of life love to take leisurely rides on their Harley on a Sunday afternoon. That's what it is all about."

Harley Davidson will truck a massive collection of motorcycles, artifacts, photographs and audiovisual materials to its tour stops beginning in Atlanta on July 20 and visit 10 cities throughout the world.

Michael Amsel: (732) 557-5733 or [email protected]
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